With Christmas less than a week away, I decided to tell you about one of my most memorable Christmases. This story has become legendary in the Donohue household. Everyone, aside from me, thinks it’s funny, but I assure you, it is not!
When I was 11 years old, I moved upstairs to the attic where there were two small bedrooms and a bathroom. I inhabited one bedroom, and the other one was sort of a guest bedroom. It was great, like having my own little apartment. It was also nice living up there because I was away from the family and could listen to music as loud as I wanted as long as there was no funeral or funeral arrangements going on. There were uncarpeted steps that led from the kitchen up to the attic (keep this in mind).
From the time I was about 10 years old, I asked for a stereo every year for Christmas. The record player I had in my room was small and lame, and all I ever wanted was a decent stereo so I could blast my albums and my 45’ collection. Is that too much to ask? I even told my parents that they didn’t have to get me anything else, or could combine my birthday gift (since my birthday is in November) and my Christmas gift and just get me a kick-ass stereo. Every stinkin’ year I asked for this. But no, it was just years of practical, weird, confusing gifts, one after another.
But finally, when I was 16, I felt that they finally heard my plea. As Christmas grew closer, my mom started putting the presents under the tree. Naturally, I looked at all the presents and whose name was on what presents. This was routine in my house because the four of us would compare to see who got the most presents. The exciting news was that there was a big box under the tree with MY name on it. When I saw the size of the box, my excitement reached a new level. The size and the shape of the box could only be one thing; a stereo. There was nothing else that I wanted or that they could possibly have gotten me that would be the same size of the box. I could already picture the turn table, the cassette player, the speakers, the thumping woofers. Holy crap, this was going to be the best Christmas ever.
Now, normally I would peak at some of the presents. I just couldn’t wait and wanted to know what to expect. But not this time. I delayed my gratification because it was going to be so sweet. Finally, after much anticipation, Christmas Eve came. By the way, as we got older and once the Santa myth was ruined, we opened presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. It’s a tradition I still like and practice. Not only did I delay my gratification by not peaking, I also waited until everyone had opened their presents. We usually took turns opening presents, so I waited until that present was the only one left under the tree. And now it was time.
I pulled the box out from under the tree and started to unwrap it slowly (my mom was the only one who knew what it was, but I told the siblings that it was probably a stereo, so they knew how excited I was, and my dad never knew what anything was until it was opened).
I pulled the wrapping paper off, opened the box and much to my confusion, there was some type of material or fabric underneath the paper. I thought, “What is this?” and I pulled it out. It was like a little rug. And when I pulled that out, I reached into the box and pulled out another one just like it. Now I’m just baffled, thinking “What the fuck is this?” and pulled out another one! I looked at my mother with a look of total confusion and said, “What is this?” My mom, looking shocked at my lack of understanding said, “They’re rugs…for your steps.”
My brain is now swimming, trying to figure out what the hell is happening.
Me: WHAT? (pause for confusion turning to anger) WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THEY’RE RUGS FOR MY STEPS?
Mom: The steps going up to your room
Me: YOU GOT ME RUGS?? I THOUGHT IT WAS A STEREO!
(The rest of the family is now giggling)
Mom: A stereo?
Me: YEAH, A STEREO! THE ONE THING I ASK FOR EVERY YEAR!!
Mom: Well, no, it’s not a stereo.
I looked to the other family members for support, but they were all chuckling and giggling, including my dad. What 16 year old girl wants freakin’ rugs for Christmas, or for anything? What normal mother thinks this is a good gift for a 16 year old who loves music and wears a “Foghat” t-shirt? Am I supposed to be grateful? How do you react to such bullshit? Was this a joke? Am I being punked?
It was horrible. How do you recover from such high expectations and major disappointment? Somehow I did, but it wasn’t easy. I was so sure it was a stereo that when I found out it was RUGS, it was like my brain couldn’t process it. She may as well have hit me in the head with a 2×4.
My mom still defends her choice in getting me RUGS no matter how I try to explain that it was possibly one of the biggest gift-giving disasters of all time. I eventually did get a stereo the following year for my birthday, but it was really low-end, like they were scraping the bottom of the barrel at Sears for this thing. You have to understand that at this point, my dad was making enough money to afford a decent stereo. My mom had a fur coat for Christ sake! Do I sound bitter and resentful? Yeah, well, so what? You would be too 🙂
But that’s in the past now…even though it’s brought up every year by at least one person in the family. By the way, those hideous rugs are currently being trampled on at my parent’s house every time someone walks up the back steps.
Well readers, this is my last post of 2011. I’m going on Christmas vacation and will be back in 2012. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Kwanza, or whatever you celebrate. I want to thank all of you for reading, because your willingness to read inspires me to write. Have a safe and happy holiday!
Love, Celeste 🙂